MOST sports fans are lucky because in most sports they know the best are going to meet the best. Whether it is the Super Bowl, the World Cup, the Olympic Games, the World Series, Wimbledon or the Masters at some stage the best will be pitted against the best when the contestants are at their peak. Pity we poor boxing fans who can only watch in envy as our “best” rarely meet the “best” or when they do too often they are past their best or at least one of them is. An example is that when Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao eventually fought, both of them were past their peak. Still great fighters but a couple of years past their best. British examples would be Ricky Hatton vs. Junior Witter and Amir Khan vs. Kell Brook; big fights at the time that never happened. There is usually more than one factor that frustrates these fights. Different TV commitments, different promotional ties, ego and of course money.
The mandated IBF middleweight title defence for Saul Alvarez against Sergey Derevyanchenko hardly compares to Mayweather vs. Pacquiao but it was interesting match and for me Derevyanchenko was capable of giving Alvarez a very tough fight. Since Alvarez did not want to give Gennady Golovkin a third match – at this time – it was as good a middleweight title fight as we could expect. But of course it is not going to happen because the respective teams could not come to a commercial agreement and the IBF stripped Alvarez of their title. So was it down to different TV commitments, promotional issues or ego? No this was purely about money. With the $300+ million contract deal Alvarez has with DAZN there is going to be very big money involved regardless of who he fights. If the promotion of the bout is decided on a bidding process then Derevyanchenko would be entitled to 35% of the winning bid. Golden Boy did not want the fight to go to purse offers because they would face competition from Derevyanchenko’s promoter and would therefore be forced to put in a high bid to ensure they won. Not surprisingly they chose to negotiate with Derevyanchenko’s team aiming to get Derevyanchenko’s team to accept a figure which would fall far short of the 35% in a purse bid. The IBF gave extension after extension to the date by which there needed to be an agreement as the two side played brinkmanship. You had Golden Boy’s position being: we are not going to get anything like 35% but we will offer a lot more money than you have ever made for a fight and Derevyanchenko’s team saying: the gap between the 35% and what you are offering is too wide, we are worth more. Nobody blinked so there was no deal and with Golden Boy not interested in a purse bidding the IBF had no alternative but to strip Alvarez because his team walked away from the table making no commitment to defend the title. Oscar De La Hoya branded the IBF decision “an insult to boxing” which is a strange way to say Derevyanchenko wanted more money than we were willing to give him so we effectively gave up the title by walking away.
The two boxers are the real losers in this. Alvarez has lost a title and has no ready opponent. With the WBC “elevating” him to Franchise champion and now replacing him with Jermall Charlo as their champion he no longer has the WBC title. There would be zero interest in fighting Ryota Murata and the WBA No 1 is … Golovkin! The talk is of a fight with Demetrius Andrade to unify the WBA and WBO titles which seems logical but a very hard sell. Derevyanchenko can’t be happy at losing the chance to fight for a huge purse and might be wishing his team had blinked but it now looks like he will get a fight with Golovkin for the vacant IBF title. As the mandatory challenger he will have a strong bargaining position and for me has a good chance of beating Golovkin. Money makes the world go around, but in this case the wheels came off.